Music Video Making of: ALEX - Youth (ft. Rachel McAlpine)

The music video for Youth was shot on the streets of New York City at night mainly between 1:00 and 5:00 AM for traffic.

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One scheduling dynamic we learned while making this video was when city lights are on and off. It wasn’t always what we would have guessed. In one case, with the Radio City Music Hall sign, the light schedules behaved differently even than what employees reported with apparent certainty, and vary depending on the day of week. The Empire State Building’s lights shuts off at 2am on the dot every day.

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We started this project collecting reference stills for most every shot. As the city is in constant flux some of the reference stills varied from our final footage. In the case of the shot above, taken while driving south around the Met Life building on Park Ave, scaffolding was put up in front of the facade on the left before we could shoot it.

Scaffolding, the cockroaches of cityscapes, are so prevalent in NYC due to city regulatory and liability requirements such as an ordinance known as “Local Law 11”. This regulation requires regular inspections of building facades which, combined with the cost of putting up and taking down the scaffolding necessary to do so, results in these structures left up all over the place for years at a time and sometimes seemingly indefinitely. Though we certainly don’t want more people dying from the debris of decomposing buildings we lament the considerable mental health burdens endured from their cancerous domination of our fair city.

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This moody reference still we ended up missing out on shooting by just a couple days. There was a tremendous amount of steam coming up out of the middle of the intersection of Canal and Church Streets with a large chunk of asphalt gone, metal plates surrounded by wood barriers in it’s place. The day before we were planning on getting this shot the hole in the street was filled with workers and the steam was off. Heads hanging low we soldiered on.

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We we’re very lucky to have the incomparable Stephanie Paulino on hair and makeup. She did a fantastic job of keeping Rachel looking pixel perfect always.

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Stabilization was a fundamental challenge as the majority of our footage was recorded from a vehicle driving on the streets of NYC. Smooth patches of road are hard to come by but we with some luck and diligent scouting we we’re able to get a profile shot of the front of the Tesla without a significant grip investment in speed rail and clamps.

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For the vehicle interior shots of Rachel singing we used a combination of a Rig Wheel’s Cloud Mount with segments from a Digital Juice Spyder Pod kit (thank you to the very talented Jeremy Nelson for helping to figure this out) holding a Movi Pro hanging through the moonroof. The Zeiss Otus lens we used for these shots performed admirably. The CineMilled plate for our Movi Pro had a manufacturing defect we didn’t discover until it was too late to get a warranty replacement for the shoot so we Macgyvered some weights to the camera to counterbalance the lovely 28mm.

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Our driver for most shots was the magically invisible Charles Irving Beale. He did an incredible job hiding from the camera, so good in fact we did almost nothing in post to keep him from being visible. For the 100% zoomed frame part above he is the most visible in the entire clip due to a street light passing overhead. If you look closely you can just barely make out the eye slit in his face mask. Our own resident ninja.

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NYPD was fantastically helpful throughout our shoot, these folks are a crew’s best friends when out on the streets of the city. In Manhattan especially they hold it down 24 hours a day.

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New York, we love you.